Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Crazy Mary Kay Lady

Last week, my Friday night started as I drove to my sister Lisa's apartment for a Mary Kay party. Traffic was bad, and I arrived about a half hour late to find that the only people there were Lisa, my other sister Michelle, and a third person who was very obviously the Mary Kay lady. Unfortunately for this woman who had given up her Friday evening to spend with us, Lisa had been somewhat deceived into holding this party. She had been called and told she'd won a makeover, and to invite some people. Yeah, I saw through it immediately, but Lisa has had less experience with such things.

So, poor Mary Kay lady found herself in a room of people who had no intention of buying her products. She quickly went through a pretty scattered presentation, which included the randomly interjected information that she had needed to move from her West Valley home because her son had died there and every time she went into the living room, she could picture him lying there, dead. Seriously. I bought one token bottle of eye makeup remover, and she gathered her stuff and headed to her car.

I'll need to insert a little back-story here. My mom teaches at Challenger Middle School and had a middle school social that night. She was in charge of setting up a laptop and projector to show "The Princess Bride." She had been having some serious difficulty in getting it to work, and she had called Lisa several times during the MK party. Finally, Lisa decided to just drive to the school to fix it, and she enlisted me in the effort.

So, Mary Kay lady and Michelle are both headed to their cars to leave while Lisa and I both hurried into her car and left. A few minutes later, Lisa's phone rang. It was Michelle, who informed us that the Mary Kay lady had left her keys in Lisa's apartment. Lisa let her know that we'd hurry as quickly as possible and be right back. We got to the school, worked our magic, and headed back to Lisa's. On the way back, Lisa's phone rang again. This time it was the Mary Kay lady wondering how close we were. Apparently, Michelle had just left her standing alone in the snow in the dark.

We got to Lisa's and checked inside the apartment for the keys. No luck. The Mary Kay lady informed us that she had slipped outside, so we looked in the snow for her keys. I shone my headlights on the area, but we still had no luck. Apparently, she and her husband have only one car, so she asked if we could possibly take her home to grab her extra set of keys. Lisa and I exchanged a worried look but agreed.

During the ride, I apologized that Michelle had left her stranded by herself. At this point, she let us know that she was really scared because she'd been raped at an apartment complex once. I felt bad for her, but it was just a little too much info from someone we didn't even know. We drove on again. She got a phone call, and then asked if it would be okay if her husband rode back with us to help her look for her keys. Again, Lisa and I exchanged a worried look but agreed.

At the Mary Kay lady's house, I had a quick second to express my concern to Lisa. Here we were in a car with a complete stranger and about to let her complete stranger husband in with us. I had her text Brett so if we went missing, at least someone would know about it. We let the lady and her husband in the car and drove back to the apartment in near silence.

I don't know how the story goes after that; Lisa and I went in to her apartment while the Mary Kay lady, I assume, drove home. I did get a phone call from her yesterday letting me know that my eye makeup remover would be free because of all my trouble. All in all, though, it was the weirdest Friday night of my life.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Check This Out for a Good Cause

The band, Five for Fighting, is generously donating $0.40 to Autism Speaksfor *each time* the video is viewed the funding goes toward researchstudies to help find a cure. When you have a moment, please visit the linkbelow to watch the video and pass it along to your friends and family.They are aiming for 10,000 hits, but hopefully we can help them to surpassthis goal.

http://www.whatkindofworlddoyouwant.com/videos/view/id/408214

This is real; I checked it out at snopes.com, so take a minute, watch a video, and know that $.40 was donated thanks to you!

http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/charity/whatkind.asp

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Computer training for the IRS

So we had our computer training today for the IRS. For those who know me you know I know a little bit about computers. I wouldn't call myself an expert but I do know more than the average user. So the training today was soooooo long. I did learn a couple things but not a whole lot. Well the trainer was trying to show us how to encript an email message but couldn't find the button to make it possible. I was able to figure out how to get it to show but the trainer didn't want to hear it. I think he didn't like me stepping on his toes. I was just trying to help and I thought I did it descreatly. I approached him durring the break and told him. I just thought it was funny that he wouldn't consider for a second. So I showed the people by me. I showed them some other things during the training that made things easier than the way the trainer was showing us. That is pretty much all that happened today. Did I mention that the training was long?

On another note, I get to fly home tomorrow afternoon. I am so excited to come home and see my family. I will be home until March and then fly out again but this time it will be for three weeks and it will be in Kansas City, MO. That sucks in two ways. 1. I will be gone for three weeks (I can fly home on the weekend but it still sucks). 2. I will miss Alex's first birthday. I realize he will not remember but I will. I feel like such a bad parent. Now all I need to do is miss my aniversary and Andrea's birthday and I will be batting a thousand.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

GPS system

So while I have been here in Phoenix Andrea's grandparent have picked me up from the airport and took me out to a birthday dinner last night. Will they got a GPS system for Christmas and they use it all the time. For those who do not know Andrea's grandparents they know their way around. This does not stop them from using the GPS. Well last night on the way to and from dinner they we comment on what the GPS was saying. I would hear "She said take a right so you better get over" "Now she is not going to happy with me because I am going a different way than she suggest, but she will re-calculate." The best was when they were discussing whether it would have them take 60 or 202 and the satisfaction that was shown by the person who was right by saying 202. It just cracked me up that they entered addresses in the GPS even when they knew how to get there.

On a side not. I forgot to mention this but as part of the training process yesterday I had to take the oath of a federal employee. This is the same oath that the President of the United States takes when being sworn into office.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Now What's Up With Me

Okay so I realize I do not post a lot but what can I say I am not very good at it. Today is my birthday and I am in Phoenix to start training for the IRS. So I will be alone, that is from my family. Andrea's grand parents said to call them after training today and they want to take me to diner for my birthday. Being alone and away from family is so very hard for me because I love them all so very much. I do my best to make it look like I don't care about leaving but deep down it hurts. The thing that hurts the most is the fact that Adam turns 3 on Thursday. I realize he will not remember I was not there on his birthday but I will. The other thing I am not looking forward to is the fact that it looks like I may be out of town for training again on Alex's first birthday, come on now that is harsh.

Anyway I am in Phoenix and the weather is great. It is 60's and I am walking around without a jacket. My training does not start until 12:30 today so I have a little time. I am so excited to start but I want to know why I seem to get sick when I travel. My throat the past couple of days has started to hurt a little in the morning and my sinus is stuffed. Well lucky me I woke up with body aches, a small fever, sore throat, and stuffed sinuses. So I walked a couple of blocks to Walgreens and got some medicine. It is starting to kick in so I am feeling better. Anyway enough complaining. Until next blog.

Monday, January 21, 2008

No Cavities

Kirk, Adam and I all had dental check-ups today. I'm always worried that, despite all my brushing, I will be told I have a mouthful of cavities. I'm proud to report that I had my second consecutive clean check up today! I think my mouth is so full of fillings and crowns that there is no room left to get a cavity. Whatever the reason, I am really happy to know I'm okay. Adam also walked away cavity (or monster, as I told him) free.

Kirk, on the other hand, has to get a crown. I mention this only because he has been so proudly bragging of his lack of cavities at our last several visits. This blog is pretty much just my method of boasting my success over him.

I am also excited because my dentist seems to think a nightguard may significantly reduce the constant pain in my jaw. I have to wait until our new flex spending kicks in so I can afford the $300 contraption, but I am really excited to see if it can save me from having to spend thousands on jaw surgery.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Ten Virgins - A Musical Parable

I've been asked to direct a spiritual musical called "The Ten Virgins," based on the parable by the same name. It follows the stories of 10 women who've each received a lamp created personally for them. Each woman was instructed by the shopkeeper to return frequently for oil. The women get to sing beautiful songs telling their stories of why the did or did not refill their oil. Of course, there is the scene when the bridegroom comes and only the wise virgins are allowed to attend the wedding.

Our Relief Society is doing this combined with another ward. Since I don't know the sisters in the other ward, I'm holding auditions this Saturday. I hope that a lot of women are interested in participating. I think it is going to be really fun. There is a lady who is going to be making costumes and everything. I know it is going to be a lot of work, but I really hope we will bring a strong spirit to the enrichment meeting in April.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

What Jeff Foxworthy Had to Say About Utah

I love that none of these are Mormon jokes! It's nice to see the state treated as separate from the religion!

  • If your local Dairy Queen is closed from September to May, you live in Utah.
  • If someone in a Home Depot store offers you assistance and they don't work there, you live in Utah.
  • If you've worn shorts and a parka at the same time, you live in Utah
  • If you've had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed the wrong number, you live in Utah.
  • If 'vacation' means going anywhere south of Salt Lake City for the weekend, you live in Utah. GUILTY!
  • If you measure distance in hours, you live in Utah. GUILTY!
  • If you know several people who have hit a deer more than once, you live in Utah.
  • If you have switched from 'heat' to 'A/C' and back again in the same day, you live in Utah. GUILTY!
  • If you install security lights on your house and garage but leave both unlocked, you live in Utah.
  • If you can drive 75 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching, you live in Utah.
  • If you design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit, you live in Utah.
  • If the speed limit on the highway is 75 mph -- you're going 80, and everyone is still passing you, you live in Utah. GUILTY! (of being the one doing the passing)
  • If driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow, you live in Utah.
  • If you know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction, you live in Utah.
  • If you find 10 degrees 'a little chilly' you live in Utah. NOT GUILTY!
  • If you actually understand these jokes and forward them to all your friends, you live in Utah.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Getting a Degree

So I decided that this year, I will be getting a Doctorate degree in Language Arts with a minor in Home Economics: Sewing. Now, before you freak out, let me explain.

This year in Relief Society, we are doing a program called Celestial University, where sisters can work toward a "degree" by completing goals in several categories and by learning from other sisters. There are several colleges to choose from, each with a dean who is ready to help you. I was leaning heavily toward pyschology, applied arts, and social science but finally decided on language arts and sewing.

The program is pretty simple. An associates degree requires 6 goals toward your major and 3 theology goals. A bachelors takes 8 goals toward your major, 5 theology goals, and 3 goals in your minor or other colleges (kind of like taking generals, I guess). A masters degree takes 10 goals toward your major, 7 theology goals, and 5 generals, and for a doctorate you need 12 goals toward your major, 9 theology goals, and 7 generals.

I love setting and reaching small goals. Its like an addiction for me. So I've decided to go for the Doctorate in Language Arts. Some of my chosen goals Language Arts goals include:

  • Find, define, and write down a new vocabulary word each day for one month.
  • Attend a play.
  • Write in your journal at least once a week for three months.
  • Write a narrative, lyric or humorous song or poem.
  • Read one classic American novel or a Newberry Award Winner

A few theology goals are:

  • Read five articles from Ensign magazines. Pick two new or important ideas you've gained from these articles and discuss them with someone.
  • Read the lessons from the manual for Relief Society ahead of time.
  • Read a book about the gospel.
  • Hold family prayer twice a day for one month.

And some fun generals are:

  • Paint a room.
  • Find three ways to save money and do it for a month.
  • Buy one classical or light classical CD and play it.
  • Decorate a cake.
  • Sew an item for a child.
  • Play racquetball twice in one month.
  • Read an article a week for four weeks from a current news magazine; e.g. Time, US News, etc.
  • Read a self improvement book; e.g. Woman's Divine Destiny of Self Eseem and LDS Woman
  • Complete your weekly grocery shopping in one trip. Do not cheat and go to the store for extras you forgot or ran out of during that week.

If you can't tell, I'm really excited about this program. You can expect to see some blogs about goals I'm working on or have completed. Feel free to bug me about how I'm doing. I may need the help to stay motivated!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tithing and Gratitude

I'm pretty sure we've all heard faith-building stories about someone who paid their tithing and had an unexpected check show up in the mail for the exact amount they needed to cover their bills. I know I've heard these stories, and though I don't doubt that they are true, I sometimes find myself questioning this motivation for paying tithing. I've heard tithing referred to as "fire insurance" with the intended double meaning that not only does paying our tithing help to secure our eternal estate, but it also gets us blessings in this life. I hate the Relief Society lesson on paying tithing because I always leave feeling like people only pay their tithing in order to get the associated rewards.

For all these reasons, I find it difficult and somewhat hypocritical to be writing the post I am writing, because I am about to share my testimony of how paying tithing has truly benefited our family in this life. I think I finally understand that the stories I've heard were intended to be stories of gratitude to our Father in Heaven, not merely proof of the cause and effect nature of being a full tithe payer. So with newfound perspective, I send out a mass apology to the grateful members of the church whose stories I have simply misunderstood, and I add my own.

Last year, I very carefully paid our tithing each month at the beginning of the month. However, as August neared, I noticed that if I paid the tithing, there wouldn't be enough to cover our bills. I decided to pay the bills first and catch up on tithing the next month. The next month, not only did I not have enough to catch up, I found I did not have enough to pay September's tithing, either. This continued until I was a full four months behind. At my wit's end, I finally decided to use money from a savings account that was strictly not to be touched. I did not know what else to do, but I knew that our tithing must be paid.

Out of obedience to the laws our Heavenly Father has set, I paid the tithing in full, not knowing how I would replace the essential money in the savings account. I fully intended to suffer the consequences later, and I can't say that anything has changed. The money had been carefully set aside in case Kirk changed jobs and we would need to pay back the tuition reimbursement awarded him by ATK. We now stand in precisely that position, and the saved money has been used.

However, I have found that every time I go to pay a bill, we have sufficient funds in the account. I was recently inspired to organize our bills in a different manner and pay them according to a slightly altered schedule. This has resulted in a little more breathing room in our budget. Yesterday, the account manager of our debt management plan at Real Wealth Financial called to say he'd been reviewing our file and that he thinks he may be able to save us some money on our mortgage. I have also been inspired to start an after school show choir at the school where I teach which will provide us with some extra income. And yes, an unexpected check actually did come in the mail.

Alone, none of these events would seem extraordinary, but combined, I clearly see the Lord's hand in our financial affairs. He has seen our need, and because of our obedience He is guiding our decisions. I am humbled and grateful to be the recipient of the Lord's love and blessings, and I feel blessed to have received such a strong testimony of tithing.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Blowing Kisses

My baby boy is seeming less and less like a baby each day. His cute, chubby face is all too quickly sporting a toddler-ish appearance, and every day he learns more and more. While I was excited to see all this happen with Adam, I am a bit reluctant to let Baby Alex grow up. But apparently, he intends to do so whether I like it or not.

The newest addition to his repertoire is blowing kisses. He just learned this trick yesterday, but he mastered it in a matter of moments. He puts his index finger inside his mouth, pulls it out, and then smacks his lips together. Throughout the process, his little face just beams with pride in his accomplishment. So far, the proud recipients of his little blown kisses include Mom and Dad, Adam, assorted extended family members, and one peanut butter sandwich.

The Best Moms

The other night, I had a discussion with some friends about how individual personalities, priorities, and preferences each affect how different moms choose to do their jobs. For example, I am really happy right now working a little bit and being mom the rest of the time. I feel like my home is my job, and I enjoy knowing that I am good at paying the bills and putting dinner on the table. At the same time, though, I love my job at Challenger. I love feeling like I am making a difference outside my home, and I love the stimulation.

Some moms, though, are 100% content to focus all their energy on their home and family. These moms amaze me! They are so focused. And of course, there are moms who work a full time job and have to fit in their mom duties during a few short hours of the day.

The amazing thing is that no matter what you choose, you can be a great mom. The only person who knows what is best for you and for your family situation is you. The only person who knows what makes you a happy mom so you can be an effective mom is you. So to all the moms out there who feel criticized for working to much or too little, ignore all the criticism. You are the wonderful mom that you are because you are you. Go Moms!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Congrats to Michelle

For any of you who know my sister, Michelle, you might be interested to know that she is engaged. The official proposal happened the day after Christmas in a cemetery. If you think that is weird, join the club. However, Michelle loved it. She's marrying Skye Davis who she met in the shows at the Starlight Mountain Theater this summer. In addition to music, Skye likes college football (especially Boise State), cheerleading, and probably other stuff that I just don't know yet.

I'll definately get the opportunity, though. Skye will be living with us from February until he and Michelle get married on May 3rd in the Jordan River Temple. Then they'll be moving to Idaho to participate in the summer shows at the theater and so Skye can start work on his degree at Boise State. He plans to be an electrician.

Anyway, Kirk and I are really excited to be getting a brother-in-law, and we're particularly excited that Michelle chose Skye. I'll post engagement pics, etc. as everything gets a little closer.

Why I Don't Watch the News

I've never really been much of a news-watcher. Partly, I think its because I somehow lack the gene that would make me care what's going on outside my house. Partly, its because I have more of a "headlines only, please" attention span, while the news seems to have a "full story repeated 3 times" attitude. Today, though, it is mostly because it is just sad.

I have, fortunately, been blessed with the ability to tune out any show I simply don't want to hear. This ability has been honed since I married Kirk and discovered his unquenchable thirst for background noise. Generally, this means I can make it through any given 24-hour period without being subjected to the sad stories of the day. However, I have this mental malfunction that causes me to read every word I see. It is a part of my brain that I can't turn off which causes me to read endless billboards, cereal boxes, and --sadly-- closed captioning. I simply cannot ignore the wall of tv's, each with those stupid little words scrolling across the bottom of its screen, at which every treadmill and cycle machine at the gym is mercilessly pointed. So I read.

This morning alone, the reports included details of a woman shot to death by her husband in a church parking lot, the death of 7 and injury of about 50 in a bus accident, and the death of a 24 year old BYU student because she was hit by a car. I wish I could say I read about each of these once, but unfortunately my disease forced me to reread the details as each separate news station recapped each disaster. Interspersed between each was speculation over whether Hilary Clinton's tears at last night's debate were real or fake. Like I care.

At 5:30 this morning, my day started with stories of tragedy. Does anyone actually enjoy starting their day this way? In an effort to add a little balance to my mental scale, I'm asking you each to post something good that happened to you yesterday. (I know you'll all read these at different times, but please choose the literal yesterday in relation to your literal today.) I'm just in the mood to hear some happiness.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Email for the New Year

Since I've given out my email address to too many websites and such, I've started to get WAY too much junk mail. I set up filters which really help, but unfortunately much of my important email gets filtered, too. Sadly, it looks like I have no choice but to retire my old email address.

If you want to be sure I'm actually getting your emails, try me at email4andreafife@gmail.com. Thanks for updating your records!